EFCC Arraigns Maryland-Based Lawyer Emeka Ugwuonye Over Fraud

Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye
Emeka Ugwuonye at his arragnment in Abuja yesterday
By SaharaReporters, New York

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in Abuja today it had formally charged a United States based Nigerian lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye, to court for defrauding the Federal Government of one million, five hundred and fifty thousand US dollars.   The crime was committed in the United States. 

Agents of the State Security Services (SSS) arrested Mr. Ugwuonye last month at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

A statement by EFCC spokesman Femi Babafemi said Ugwounye appeared before Justice Suleiman Belgore of the Federal High Court who ordered that he be remanded in EFCC custody until March 30, 2011 when trial will commence.

The charge reads: "That you Ephraim Emeka Ugwounye, sometimes between December 2007 and March 2011 at various places including Abuja, within the jurisdiction of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being entrusted with the sum of $1,550,000.00 (One Million, Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars) property of the Federal Government of Nigeria, dishonestly converted to your own use the said entire sum of $1,550,000.00 (One Million, Five Hundred and Fifty Thousand US Dollars) in violation of the agreement between you and the Federal Government of Nigeria through its Embassy in the United States and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 312 of the penal code Act , Cap.532, Laws of the Federation of (Abuja) 1990".

According to Mr. Babafemi, the EFCC also filed another charge against the accused at the High Court. He did not specify what that charge is, and no date has been fixed for Ugwuonye’s arraignment over that one.

Ugwuonye was arrested by agents of the State Security Services (SSS) on February 12 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and handed over to the EFCC for further action.  The agency said the lawyer was "watch listed" after federal officials concluded that he had a case to answer in a series of real estate transactions with the Nigeria Embassy in Washington DC.  
 
In several reports in 2009, Saharareporters exposed how Mr. Ugwuonye had seized $1.7 million in tax refunds belonging to the embassy.  Mr. Ugwuonye took hold of the funds following a business relationship in which he represented the embassy in the sale of several properties belonging to the Nigerian government. He claimed that the Nigerian government owed him fees for other legal services performed for it.

In an August 2008 letter to Mr. Ugwuonye Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United States, to whom the embassy had turned for help, had appealed to the lawyer “release the Embassy’s IRS refund without delay.”

Although Mr. Ugwuonye has been charged to court in Nigeria,  Nigerian embassy officials, have dragged Mr. Ugwuonye before the Attorney Grievances Commission in the Maryland.

The embassy also instituted a lawsuit in the US district court in Washington DC against Mr. Ugwuonye and two partners who allegedly assisted him to seize the tax refund.
   
 

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BKjtt

I detected my boyfriend cheating on me who has a different dude on PlayerBlock

Fair trial

I do hope he gets a fair trial.

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Capital Trust, capital purnishment and Business with Nigerians

God save the name and image of Nigeria outside its shores in business relationship. The Nigerian govt. would have found another US based lawyer to represent its transaction but no one wants to do business with Nigeria and its govt. due to its Credit-inability; a Credibility (Credit-Ability) that has been debased. True and intellectually driven citizens must fight this orientation of free service and entitlement mentality out of subconscious as it determines how the world sees Nigerians.

In Nigeria- Entitlement Mentality and free service mindset

People of global orientation and intellectual drive this issue span beyond irrelevant and minuteness of tribal sentiments. It will and can happen to anyone either way in Nigeria as long as anything goes for standard and counts for right in Nigeria. Payment after service and honouring obligation has been the reason why many Nigerians get killed in little-little deals.

Thank you... He is a very

Thank you... He is a very good friend of mine. He is very bright and honest. I pray for him and wish him well...

emeka's arraignment

i am happy that the matter has gone to law court instead of keeping mr. ugwuonye in detention for that long by efcc. i am confident the judiciary will rise to the occassion, we learn everyday, whether mr. ugwuonye can be justified, or if we can clap for government that fails to honour his financial obligations to a lawyer that has worked for it for so long a time, yes, the world is waiting and watching, and i am convinced that the judiciary will not disappoint the world, bcos emeka is not just a US lawyer but practices in other continents where he has offices, so he is a global specie.
i wish him well and i am very hopeful he will come out of this stronger and better.

EFCC vs Emeka Ugwuonye

EFCC should focus on the big fishes in Nigeria who have looted our future into ruine rather than this Maryland lawyer. The guy has a right to seize any refund due the Nigerian goverment for services to the Nigeria goverment if they refuse to pay him. I wonder if someone at the Embassy was trying to pull a fast one on the guy and he beat them to it. I don't trust these goverment officials. These government officials at the embassy once ripped me of my busary funds about 30 years ago. Let the guy go and focus on Nigerians crooks in your jurisdiction. The US goverment will handle criminal in its jurisdiction, Nigerians or otherwise.

they are chasing shadow. How

they are chasing shadow. How can you contract a job to someone and you refused to pay him and expected you to give you your due when is own due was not paid

it is an abuse of power

EFCC On Lawyer Emeka Ugwuonye

I don't want to join issues here with those perennial tribal jingoists who are often quick to accuse the rest of us whenever anything untoward befell those of same tribal identities. The truth is that these same tribes who cavort at the top echelon over lager and goathead pepp'soup at Aso are not complaining. Why are those of us at the bottom rung always whingeing about ethnic marginalisation, even threatening those with fragile hearts with such words as Biafra Now!, Arewa bla bla, Oduduwa Nation, etc. I am wise enough to know you cannot catch an old bird with chaff. Tribalism is, in reality, dead. What is in vogue today has to do with money. Oil Money, or in the Nigerian parlance, Oil and Gas (O&G) giving our undying love for acronyms. Oil money has a stronger scent than ethnicity, hello?..... Next time you run amock flying your tribal flag before us, you only end up displaying your pathetic side.

EFCC. I am falling out of love with the EFCC. I am a young man with an old fashioned sense of loving. When I fall in love, I go plunging in heart first, then my head follows in a huge charity binge. Long after those "smart" guys have flashed their red cards and gone fishing again, there I am, still sitting in limbo, waiting for the dice to roll. Good thing is, when, after all the lying and cheating on me comes up to my heart's brimful, I completely lose my breaklights. Before Emeka Ogwuonye and his One Million plus dollars, I've always watched and listened to your monologue on TV, oh EFCC. I remember the days when love was young and your every move simply mesmerized me no end. I'm I still in love? Why this consistence in going after small fish while the sharks and whales are left to keep on hunting? Lately, as I tangle my will in the braids of your hair, the fragrances I catch keep getting dissimilar, the smell, not as sweet. I am about to leave you. When I do you'd be as dead cold as dodo. Because I am an old fashioned lover whose scales start falling long after the last musical note had been struck.

Mr Emeka Ugwuonye is a Nigerian. He has his own side of the story. We are in a democracy and the courts are the final arbiter. He should be arraigned with minimum delay, allowed to tell his own story against that of our High Commission. Let justice reign. Should he be found wanting, may he swing swift and true. On the other hand, should the High Commission's story be found not up to scratch, it is then down to Emeka to go looking for the hang man. Until then, we should learn to love and respect one another, no matter the amount of bile building within.

Hey Kiddo!

Benjamin,

Whatever problem you are encountering, is same with most nigerians who take sides in issues as a result of cultural and ethnic background.

I believe you are an adult, please learn to act like one. And if not, go read some Macmillan's Ali and Wakama stories.

Need I say more?

NEMESIS

What else can we call this but Nemesis. There is a saying that no matter has fast the legs can run, it will always meet the ground in front. Oh Emeka, how has the mighty fallen. Even though it is not right to rejoice over the misfortunes of others but honestly speaking Emeka's cup has filled up for Nemesis to catch up with him. I think we all should take a lesson from his life, character, travails and ensure our watchword is "Do Good" cos it pays to be good and do good. I wish Emeka himself will learn from this experience if he ever gets out of this mess. What a pity!!!

this is blackmailing

south west hate for igbos is out for everybody to see even sharareporters .....the are the ones that was fighting this guy from day one....the guy is fighting for his fees and u guys are just blackmailing him ...IGBO's will only get better .

CORRUPTIONPlc

Smart guy, or do you seriously believe that he alone in this? The problem of corruption in Nigeria is that "IT IS SDSTEMIC" and endemic. Who authorised the "handing over" of public money to an individual. Are there no Financial Regulations to guide transactions between individuals and the Sovereign? Frm the wasy this started, it is going to end up in the expected standard - a plea bargain- or the case is struck out for lack of "due diligence from the prosecution.
To fight corruption, we habe to tighten up the Rules and really enforce the rules. As things stand, the powerful masters have devised ways and means to make nonsense of every rule tthat calls for ACCOUNTABILITY.

The suit

Ephraim Emeka Ugwuonye Man a big man like you should have better taste than the suit you are wearing, those lapels!

Here we go Again

It baffles me how some of us hastly conclude about the guilt of an accused whose side of the story has not been heard. Even from the perspective of EFCC, to the effect that he, Emeka "cornered" the money belonging to the Nigerian Embassy in America in lieu of legal fees owed him by same, it is prima facie possible on the evidence for the case against him to collapse in the court of law becuase in legal principle, we are talking about a right to lien here (I commend Enemuo Chinedum and Chris Ekemezie whose comments stand out). If Emeka actually "defrauded)the Embassy,I fail to see how he would have been bold enough to come over to Nigeria on his own volition to be arrested: he is a lawyer and sure knows his onions.It is an opportunity for him to make more money from the Federal Government - in legal costs of course.

Emeka Ugwuonye

This is a dangerous move by Nigerian officials as this may finally lead to destabilisation of the Country as in Libya. It seems USA and allies are not only interested in further control of oil reserve as in Iraqi. They need to boost their economy and hence create unending demands for weapons and other war related materials.
Emeka may be one of the pawns that USA wants to use to create chaos, and then start supplying weapons to Biafrans and other ethnic militia.
If Nigeria is going to break, let it be based on referendum not war. If Nigeria is to remain together then the nationalities in Nigeria have to set up a commonwealth of government defining the terms of association. Emeka was a Nigerian by birth but may be agents of American destabilisation.

How the mighty are fallen

This is just the beginning for emeka's downfall, the bragging poh, who thinks he can step on anybody toes because of his position. Now his fame are turning to shame. This is just the beginning for him. Never look down on people emeka, who is behaving like an angel but in devils cloth.

It is now the turn of some to laugh.
Think emeka, because you have crossed those that help you.
O ni bo mbe, e mu da da oniyan buruku ni.

The Ants can laugh over the Elephant

Emeka is shewred and crooked person. Now God's judgement is coming in phases to him, he should hold on more are coming. He has use his position to cheat people, now he is dancing to the tune of the he has ones played. God will punish him the more. His agony is just starting.
His fame is coming to shame.

Let us put things in perspective.

Let us put things in perspective.
"
In several reports in 2009, Saharareporters exposed how Mr. Ugwuonye had seized $1.7 million in tax refunds belonging to the embassy. Mr. Ugwuonye took hold of the funds following a business relationship in which he represented the embassy in the sale of several properties belonging to the Nigerian government. He claimed that the Nigerian government owed him fees for other legal services performed for it."

1. Does the embassy agree they are owing him some money?
2. Have they paid him fully?
3. Did Mr. Ugwuonye inform them that he is holding their property I.e. $1.7 million in lieu of paying off their debt to him?
4. Is this the best EFCC can do about the corruption Galore that is choking the life out of this Nation?
I am not in any way justifying the action of Mr Ugwonye, however, I see this simply as an EFCC diversionary tactics in trying to draw our attention away from the fact that EFCC has not gone after the big PDP wigs and the colossal sums of money that has disappeared from Nigerian treasury by various means in the last 12 years.

Personally, I am not going to be hoodwinked by Goodluck's inaction and in fact tactically sanctioning corruption in high places - $16 Billion fake Power votes, 300 Billion Naira vote on roads that are on paper only, Dredging of River Niger that was opened by YarAdua with fanfare in Lokoja a few years ago, and to top it all the $20 Billion Excess crude account that has quietly seeped into TOP PDP members pockets, and the list goes on and on.

Let EFCC stop playing games and ridiculing Nigerians.

Is it not much more worth the effort if they went after Bankole's abracadabra on the car votes saga than running after the sum of $1.7 million which in all probability isn 'the interest' on 'the interest' on the interest of the Principal $20 Billion excess crude account that Goodluck has up till now kept mum about?

Nigerians ca no longer be taken for a ride.

That suits him well because

That suits him well because he is the type that would like to carry Nigerian thing on their shoulders (i.e. Connected citizen sort of who never
see anything wrong with Nigerian politicians).

I have done business in North America with various North American governments and it has always been straight forward with mutuqal respect under Public
Tender, clear, clean and complete.

It doesn't make sense for me to work for any Nigerian for less, bribe them, make consections, no profit and still be accused for overcharging, etc ? They should take their business elsewhere
and I hope they learn how to pay clients promptly?

Start Singing

Emeka should start singing. If there are any little or big secret Emeka has about the thieves he represented, now is the time for him to start singing. This is not the time for attorney/client privilege. Emeka as a lawyer should have sued nija govt. for any more owed him instead of helping himself. This is the problem we have with Nigeria and those who represent her.

EFCC arraigns...

In as much as what we have read about the accused is unsavory, I wonder if this pursuit is value for money especially since the populace is anxiously awaiting the arraignment of 'real' culprits. Alas a resort to 'tokenism' does sap much needed energy.

He should have sued for his fees

Instead of keeping the money, he should have billed and then sued for his fees if not paid.

The way things have happened sounds like corruption. There should be the death penalty for theft & corruption.

What is the ground for Premer-facia case here.

In all, have EFCC done a thorough investigation on this? The fact that this man had somehow been found guilty of legal ethics by the US has also been punished does not call a primer-facia case in his Nigeria involvement. He is making reference to debt owe to him by the same client for a legal job done. He is talking about "lien"; now the question should be thus:

1. What kind of lien does he have upon the finance of his client?
2. Does such lien extend to all other legal jobs done?
3.Is there anything like common lien?

Those are questions that needs answers before primer-facia is called.

This American Lawyer has a very strong ground and intentionally came all the way to Nigeria to mock our system and make a hero out of himself. I do not wish to be a part in his careless detention and arraignment until all above questions are answered.

Enemuo Wales.

harassment

waste of time...the crime was committed in the usa...and you have already sued him in the usa...

Hes American Lawyer

Abe, leave am o...na American lawyer dat na why dem hire am in the first place. Him sabi book pass all the lawyers wey dey Nigeria.

Its a hoax.

I do not see the guilt of a man who worked for the Nigerian government and he seized government funds in his custody since the government has failed to honour its obligation. He claim over the money is a bonafide claim of ownership and there is no element of fraud. SR did report that Mr Ugwuonye duly informed the Nigerian Embassy in the USA that he has with held the funds in partial payment of the Embassy's indebtedness to him. What the government has done now is to apply its coersive powers as an oppressor to wrongfully arrest, detain and roll out charges against the lawyer. If the government of Nigeria believes it has a good case it should pursue its case in the courts in the US. This is a clear case of a man being a judge in his own case

Breeding Vultures

Sincerely it baffles me beyond words what system of Govt we are running that gives one man the capacity and possibility to corner this amount of money into his pocket. Talk about the governors - they divert state cash in a manner that makes mockery of state houses of assembly. A federal budget that provided 1 million naira as feeding cost for the President shows the madness of corruption and barbaric nature of mans wickedness! It means that the Presidents wife is handed 365 million naira every year to feed the presidential family excluding the husbands salary and unexplainable estacodes.
We are doomed with these Pharoahs of our country. No conscience, no humaness, no honour. There is something in this universe called the 'law of nemesis' which is beyond budget or legal manipulation.

Mhmmm...

Mhmmm...

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